Ruining My Childhood Reading

One of the first SF authors I was introduced to was Heinlein (“I learned it from watching you, Dad!” – the reference for those who get it).  And for years and years, I fondly remembered the short story “The Roads Must Roll.”  It was a story I’d recommended to others.  Fun.  Interesting.  Awesome starter for anyone who wanted to read SF.  I looked back on it and loved it.

Then, almost 20 years later, I read it again, this time for a grad-level class on SF.  And oh my god! Suddenly I realized that this excellent, amazing, classic of a story was awful.  No, not the writing or the plot.  But the treatment of women! 

As an uber-feminist, I was shocked that 12 year old me didn’t notice just how badly the women were treated – and ignored – as human beings in the story.

Amazing what happens when we read something from a new perspective.  Which is why I now find myself in possession of the 75th Anniversary Edition of “Is Sex Necessary?” by James Thurber and E.B. White.  This version, unlike the one I read as a child, has a forward by John Updike that discusses many of Thurber’s issues and sheds light on why this comedic masterpiece may not be as funny as all that after all.

So here I go, plunging into the depth of another memory and seeing if I’ll emerge unscathed or soaking wet.  Wish me luck!